10 Job Skills You Can Learn From Acting

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Few actors are lucky enough to support themselves solely by acting. Whether it’s a day job or a new career, your acting skills and training will help you become successful in any profession. Here are 10 job-related skills the craft can teach you.

1. Closing the deal
In any business, whether it’s a sales job or owning a business, you’ll need to sell a product or service. Convincing someone of something is a valuable asset. In addition to your inner truth, let your buyers know you’re truly confident in your product by the way in which you speak and how you hold yourself physically, skills you learn in the acting classroom.

2. Trust
Advancing in your career without being trustworthy is hard. In my classes, we play a game where a person has to close their eyes and fall backward and trust they’ll be caught. It’s not as easy as it sounds; letting go can be scary. We often try to control the scene or outcome without trusting our instincts and being present in the moment. Developing trust in your self can take time, but it will help you in any career setting.

3. Empathy
Putting yourself in another’s shoes is a crucial people skill. As you take on different parts, you will naturally become more empathic and understand others’ emotional experiences. Since our emotions play a prominent role in thought, decision making, and success, when you have empathy, you will stand out in the workplace and be a superstar, especially in careers where you work directly with clients or customers.

4. Active listening
Being a good listener is a fundamental component of interpersonal communication skills and the key to a healthy relationship. If you’re familiar with Meisner’s repetition exercise in which two actors repeatedly exchange the same two lines of dialogue, you know it takes a lot of practice. Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just hearing the message of the speaker. In learning how to listen, you remain neutral and non-judgemental, both important when working with bosses and co-workers.

5. Curiosity
Who am I? What do I want? How do I get what I want? Where am I? When does the scene take place for me? These are all questions used to break down a scene and work on character development. Showing up authentically and being curious about what will happen next is key to success, not only in your acting but with your employees and customers.

6. Patience
You spend hours on set only to find out your scene is now being pushed to the next day. You deal with many personalities and egos, all while keeping your cool. Learning to maintain a level head in stressful circumstances is an asset in the workplace as your patience will be tested over and over again.

7. Critical thinking
Observing, interpreting, and analyzing are skills needed in the workplace. If you audition regularly, you know that thinking outside the box is crucial for gaining attention. Acting requires critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skill, all of which also enhances academic performance and are marketable strengths.

8. Teamwork
You don’t act in a vacuum—you rely on other actors to play with you. Acting also requires that you leave your ego outside the stage door. Want to get that promotion? Be a good team player. Employers hire people they like and believe will get along well with customers and co-workers.

9. Working well under pressure
Many job interviewers or college admissions staff ask how well you can work under pressure, a question actors can ace. Getting up on stage in front of hundreds of people, taking risks, and memorizing pages of dialogue gives you lots of experience in managing stress.

10. Transferable skills
The lessons and skills learned in acting will transfer to any career path and enhance your professional success. The acting skills you master now—including communication, empathy, patience, problem-solving, and self-confidence—will help you succeed today and for the rest of your life, whether you decide to continue with acting or enter another profession. It’s all good!

*This post was originally published on Jan. 11, 2018. It has since been updated.

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Denise Simon
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years as an actor, teacher, director, casting director and personal talent manager.
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